BBC's Planet Earth returns as a live simulcast next week -- but not in the US (video)

For fans of HD and / or nature documentaries, the BBC Planet Earth series is the unquestioned champion, and to provide a proper followup the Brits are improving it the only way they know how: doing it live. What the broadcaster calls its "most ambitions global wildlife series ever" will air simultaneously in 140 countries (more on that bit later) starting Sunday May 6th, then every Thursday and Sunday for three weeks. The plan is to track animals in seven different locations around the world in real time as they struggle for survival and broadcast it all in HD. One segment features Top Gear's Richard Hammond following a pride of lions across southern Kenya, while another will track black bears in Minnesota. The bad news? If you're in the US or Canada you're not on that 140 country list and won't be seeing any of this live. We're not sure if there's time to make this a campaign issue in the 2012 presidential election but we figure that, or at least bugging BBC America (while we're on the subject -- where's our global iPlayer?) is worth a try. Check after the break for a press release with all the details on where and when it is airing, as well as a trailer.

Update: While we won't be getting the live simulcast, BBC's Paul Deane dropped in a comment below noting it will air the next day on National Geographic Wild retitled as 24/7 Wild. We haven't located a program description yet, but there are already listings in the schedule starting May 7th -- schedule your DVRs accordingly.

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The most ambitious BBC global wildlife series ever undertaken - Planet Earth Live to air globally in 140 countries
Planet Earth Live
Date: 27.04.2012Last updated: 27.04.2012 at 09.15

Category: BBC Worldwide

This May the Earth's most charismatic animals will be followed day and night by award winning BBC Natural History Unit film makers, international wildlife specialists and BBC viewers around the world* - for an epic global animal soap opera Planet Earth Live where nature writes the script.

Click to tweet: The most ambitious BBC global wildlife series ever undertaken #Planetearthlive to air globally in 140 countries http://bbc.in/KfRy4h

Filming in six different time zones, across five diverse continents, in seven locations using spectacular cinematography, real-time filming techniques and up-close HD wildlife footage – the young animals' struggle for survival during the critical month of May will air across BBC channels around the world. The lives of the Earth's youngest animals truly hang in the balance over the course of the series including baby elephants in Kenya, black bears in Minnesota, macaque monkeys in Sri Lanka, meerkats in South Africa, grey whales in the Pacific and lion cubs in the Masaai Mara.

Anchored in Southern Kenya, Top Gear's Richard Hammond will fulfill his childhood dream as he tracks the Marsh pride of lions with specialist camerawoman Sophie Darlington. The group of lions, made famous by the BBC's Big Cat Diary, are reaching a crucial time in their history thanks to a pride takeover. A lioness has already escaped with the cubs but with limited food, their survival remains threatened.

Meanwhile over 13,000 kilometres away in the wild Northwoods of Minnesota, Julia Bradbury will get up close and personal with one of the most feared predators on the planet – black bears. Julia joins wildlife expert Dr Lynn Rogers as bear families emerge from their dens with new born cubs. On the Pacific coast Julia will also follow the epic migration of grey whales and their calves running the gauntlet of killer whales.

From the team behind the global phenomenon Frozen Planet , Planet Earth Live will simultaneously broadcast to a global audience** via BBC Knowledge (Australia, New Zealand, Africa, Poland, the Nordic Region, Asia and Italy) BBC Entertainment (India), BBC HD (Latin America, the Nordic Region, Poland and Turkey) and in a selection of European countries on the BBC Global iPlayer***.

David Weiland, SVP Programming and TV Channels comments: "We are the only network in the world which can broadcast the biggest wildlife series ever undertaken to an international audience, across multiple platforms. The culmination of ten years development and digital technological innovation from the BBC's Natural History Unit means our audiences will be a part of this truly global viewing experience, where even the show's producers don't know what's going to happen next, to this cast of truly incredible animals".

Planet Earth Live is the latest synchronised broadcast from BBC Worldwide, reinforcing the network's commitment to stage bold and ambitious global television events, showcasing the very best of British programming and UK talent to the World. Following on from The Royal Wedding in 2011, Sport Relief in March 2012; Planet Earth Live is the second global moment for our international audiences to share this year. Planet Earth Live will be closely followed this summer by London Calling - a unique season of programming celebrating the music, fashion, art, culture and history of Britain's capital city; led by live coverage from the spectacular Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

Notes to Editors:

* Dates and times vary according to territory.

**Live simulcasts:

From Sunday May 6th Planet Earth Live will air simulcast with BBC ONE at 19:50 BST (UK time) on BBC Knowledge (EMEA – Poland, Africa and the Nordic region), BBC Knowledge Australia and New Zealand and BBC HD (the Nordic Region, Poland and Turkey) and then at 20:00 BST (UK time) every Thursday and Sunday for three weeks, with later languaged localised repeats also scheduled.

International versions:

***From Tuesday May 8th BBC Global iPlayer will air Planet Earth Live every Tuesday and Saturday for three weeks in Spain, Portugal, France, Austria, Switzerland, Eire and Italy.

From Wednesday May 16th BBC Knowledge Asia will air Planet Earth Live the languaged version, every Wednesday and Thursday for three weeks.

From Wednesday May 16th BBC Knowledge Italy will air Planet Earth Live the languaged version, every Wednesday for six weeks.

From Thursday May 17th BBC Entertainment India will air Planet Earth Live the languaged version, every Thursday and Friday for three weeks.

From Tuesday June 19th BBC HD Latin America and Brazil will air Planet Earth Live the languaged version, every Thursday and Tuesday for three weeks.

The event excludes the US and Canada.

For further information, please contact:

Charlotte Scarborough

Communications, BBC Worldwide Channels

Tel: +44 (0)208 433 32009

Email: charlotte.scarborough@bbc.com

BBC Worldwide Channels is one of five core BBC Worldwide businesses. Formed in 2005, the business' diverse portfolio of channel brands provides a global showcase for the best mix of British TV across factual, entertainment, children's and lifestyle programming. The company is the UK's leading international broadcaster, operating a network of localised channels that reach over 300 million homes in more than 100 countries around the world.

BBC World News, the BBC's commercially funded international 24-hour news and information channel, is owned and operated by BBC World News Ltd, a member of the BBC's commercial group of companies. BBC World News is available in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide, and over 300 million households and 1.8 million hotel rooms. The channel's content is also available on 136 cruise ships, 40 airlines, 23 mobile phone networks and a number of major online platforms including bbc.com/news. For further information on how to receive BBC World News, download schedules or find out more about the channel, visit bbc.com/tvschedule.

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BBC's Planet Earth returns as a live simulcast next week -- but not in the US (video) (Update)